shelf engine is the latest Seattle startup to downsize.
The company, which helps grocers manage food orders, confirmed to GeekWire that it has laid off 43 employees due to “difficult economic conditions”. He did not provide an updated headcount; the startup employed 200 people in September when it raised funds from a group of celebrities. According LinkedInthe company currently has approximately 150 employees.
“Due to the current difficult economic conditions, Shelf Engine has made the very difficult decision to reduce the number of positions within the company,” said the CEO and co-founder. Stefan Kalb wrote in an email to GeekWire. “We are moving forward aligned in pursuit of our mission to reduce food waste through automation.”
Amid the widespread economic downturn, many businesses are being asked to cut costs and expand cash flow, which often means laying off employees. Seattle startups such as Convoy, Flyhomes, Rad Power Bikes, 98point6 and Esper have all had rounds of layoffs this year.
Founded in 2016, Shelf uses machine learning to streamline the ordering process for grocers stocking their produce sections, with the goal of reducing costs and reducing waste in the process. The company reported in September that retailers using the platform can reduce food waste by up to 32% while increasing profits. Shelf Engine makes money by tagging the products it buys from suppliers that it sells to retailers.
In September, the startup said it was used in at least 3,500 stores in the United States, with major retailers such as Kroger, Target and Whole Foods, as well as foodservice company Compass Group. It also opened a second office in Denver.
Kalb got the idea for the business through another startup he co-founded, Molly’s, which supplies healthy foods to hospitals, grocery stores, cafes, gyms and offices. Kalb noticed the difficulty of creating efficient fresh produce orders and decided to create software that helped Molly’s buy the right amount of food in bulk to meet customer demands.
Kalb co-founded Shelf Engine in 2016 with Bede Jordana Microsoft veteran who was the primary software engineering lead for the company’s HoloLens team.
The management team also includes Deborah AlexanderDirector of Operations and Head of Finance.
The company has raised approximately $60 million to date, including a $41 million round in March 2021 and a $2 million round in September led by celebrities including Ellen DeGeneres, Portia de Rossi, Shaun White and Shawn Mendes. Other investors include General Catalyst, GGV Capital, Foundational Capital, 1984 Ventures, Correlation Ventures, Founders’ Co-op, Soma Capital, Firebolt Ventures and Initialized Capital.
Shelf’s post-money valuation in September was around $180 million, according to PitchBook.